How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

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How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:32 am

To what degree is belief in the historical existence of The Buddha necessary?

If the story of The Buddha was, say, a fictional creation of the First Buddhist council in order to homogenize teachings of different teachers, would that impact the practical implications of Buddhism all that much? Is the Buddha required, or is the Dhamma and Sangha sufficient?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Cloud » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:39 am

The Tipitaka has been analyzed and has been found to be remarkably consistent to the point that it would be very improbable that there were different authors; it seems to be the work of one individual, in contrast to... say... the Bible.

We only need to understand that someone realized full/complete enlightenment and taught a clear path for others to do so. If we don't consider this to be "the Buddha", then who? Might as well go along with it. IMHO this individual did exist, just as Jesus of Nazareth did exist.

It's hard to take refuge in the Buddha as our teacher, and thus in his teachings and the community of monks/nuns (and those who awakened) if we don't believe in the Buddha in the first place.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:06 am

I don't think belief in the historical existence of the Buddha is necessary.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby bodom » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:12 am

If the Buddha did not exist does that change the reality of suffering and its end?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:30 am

Nope, but it's pretty consistent and the relics are kind of evidence of his existence. :jumping:
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Will » Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:21 am

Viscid wrote:To what degree is belief in the historical existence of The Buddha necessary?

If the story of The Buddha was, say, a fictional creation of the First Buddhist council in order to homogenize teachings of different teachers, would that impact the practical implications of Buddhism all that much? Is the Buddha required, or is the Dhamma and Sangha sufficient?


It is essential to have a Buddha. If no Buddha, then there is no exemplar of one who knew the causes & ending of suffering. If no successful Guru, then all is theory or speculation.

Gadzooks - the noxious questions that come up. :zzz:
Last edited by Will on Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Euclid » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:53 am

But there's no 'proven theory' regardless - it's only proven when you realise it to be true, of your own accord.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Goedert » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:39 pm

As a buddhist, I bow down to the Buddha and lay down on the floor, so that he can pass trough my whole body and his feets stay clean.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Will » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:11 pm

Euclid wrote:But there's no 'proven theory' regardless - it's only proven when you realise it to be true, of your own accord.


See my edit above - is that acceptable?

I do not see how one person's "realisation" can be true, if there is no standard to contrast it with. It can feel true or appear true, but unless confirmed by someone wiser - is it?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:29 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:14 pm

Could've been a fictional character and the teachings still work.

Disbelieving the guy existed, though, makes the magic impossible.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:27 pm

Viscid wrote:To what degree is belief in the historical existence of The Buddha necessary?

If the story of The Buddha was, say, a fictional creation of the First Buddhist council in order to homogenize teachings of different teachers, would that impact the practical implications of Buddhism all that much? Is the Buddha required, or is the Dhamma and Sangha sufficient?




Regardless of if a historical Buddha existed I know the teachings help improve my life


So no it doesnt really matter if he did live or not, at least to me
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby KonstantKarma » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:14 am

I'm not the Amazing Buddhist :sage: at all but it seems to me, the Buddha is not the core of the teaching, it's the Buddhadhamma. In Christianity, Jesus is the core of the teaching - the salvation comes from the man, not the life he led. No Jesus = No savior and no salvation. In Buddhism refuge is not solely placed in the existence of Gautama.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Cloud » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:34 am

What's important is that there is someone to look up to as an example; someone who's "been there, done that" already. This is not only the Buddha, but also the noble ones (Ariya) that have come after, which can take the form of various Bodhisattvas etc. by some schools or simply the conviction that there have been others who have been liberated since the Buddha's time. There's a reason that there's a Triple Gem. :)
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby BlackBird » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:41 am

I think it's of the utmost importance. The idea that this great teaching was passed down by a person who actually knew and saw the minds of man and the world for what it is, a person who understood the human condition and how to put an end to suffering. If some guys just got together and made the whole story up, then there's not much credibility to the practice, nor the idea of enlightenment.

I don't think Buddhism makes sense without the Buddha.

"As I reflected thus, my mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.

"Then Brahma Sahampati, having known with his own awareness the line of thinking in my awareness, thought: 'The world is lost! The world is destroyed! The mind of the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Rightly Self-awakened One inclines to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma!' Then, just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, Brahma Sahampati disappeared from the Brahma-world and reappeared in front of me. Arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, he knelt down with his right knee on the ground, saluted me with his hands before his heart, and said to me: 'Lord, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the One-Well-Gone teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.'

"That is what Brahma Sahampati said. Having said that, he further said this:


'In the past
there appeared among the Magadhans
an impure Dhamma
devised by the stained.
Throw open the door to the Deathless!
Let them hear the Dhamma
realized by the Stainless One!

Just as one standing on a rocky crag
might see people
all around below,
So, O wise
one, with all-around vision,
ascend the palace
fashioned of Dhamma.
Free from sorrow, behold the people
submerged in sorrow,
oppressed by birth & aging.

Rise up, hero, victor in battle!
O Teacher, wander without debt in the world.
Teach the Dhamma, O Blessed One:
There will be those who will understand.'
"Then, having understood Brahma's invitation, out of compassion for beings, I surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. As I did so, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace & danger in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses — born & growing in the water — might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being smeared by the water — so too, surveying the world with the eye of an Awakened One, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace & danger in the other world.

"Having seen this, I answered Brahma Sahampati in verse:


'Open are the doors to the Deathless
to those with ears.
Let them show their conviction...


- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

That verse always brings me to awe, it's inspiring.
Last edited by BlackBird on Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:59 am

Well said, Blackbird!


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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:15 am

Viscid wrote:Is the Buddha required, or is the Dhamma and Sangha sufficient?


While I take refuge in all three jewels, I think for me the Dhamma is of primary significance when it comes to daily practice. But the Dhamma must have come from somewhere, and my assumption is that it was the historical Buddha.

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:22 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:30 pm

BlackBird wrote:I don't think Buddhism makes sense without the Buddha.


Doesn't special relativity make sense without Einstein?
Doesn't analytical psychology make sense without Jung?
Doesn't existentialism make sense without Kierkegaard?

These are subjects which were discovered and popularized by these great thinkers, and for that I respect them. But I do not revere them as people revere The Buddha.

Physicists do not have Einstein shrines.
Psychologists do not have Jung shrines.
Philosophers do not have Kierkegaard shrines.

It could be argued that being reverential to The Buddha is to have direction towards a model of full enlightenment. This is true if you are completely convinced of the accuracy of the depictions of The Buddha as fully-enlightened, but because we are now aware of just how frequently myth, rumour and exaggerations are integrated into historical account, a rational person would have skeptical doubt.

Without faith in The Buddha, there must be faith in the Dhamma, which is far easier to have faith in as you can discover its truth through practice. We cannot go back in time and see whether or not The Buddha's depictions are true.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:12 pm

Viscid wrote:
BlackBird wrote:I don't think Buddhism makes sense without the Buddha.


Doesn't special relativity make sense without Einstein?
Doesn't analytical psychology make sense without Jung?
Doesn't existentialism make sense without Kierkegaard?


Actually they wouldn't EXIST without these people.

These are subjects which were discovered and popularized by these great thinkers, and for that I respect them. But I do not revere them as people revere The Buddha.


Without the Buddha really existing and discovering, there would never have been a discovery. If there was no fully enlightened Buddha, Nirvana would not be a real phenomenon.

It could be argued that being reverential to The Buddha is to have direction towards a model of full enlightenment.


It's more than that. It's admitting that enlightenment is fully possible.

This is true if you are completely convinced of the accuracy of the depictions of The Buddha as fully-enlightened, but because we are now aware of just how frequently myth, rumour and exaggerations are integrated into historical account, a rational person would have skeptical doubt.


What? So what do you doubt exists, the Buddha or enlightenment?

Without faith in The Buddha, there must be faith in the Dhamma, which is far easier to have faith in as you can discover its truth through practice. We cannot go back in time and see whether or not The Buddha's depictions are true.


You're right for a different reason. We don't have to worry about that because we have direct historical accounts, and physical evidence. There's relics of the Buddha. :cookoo:
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